The best breast pumps, from electric to manual models

Since J.H. Hoover’s original patent in 1898, breast pumps have come a long way and even look a little bit different than the first consumer-targeted pumps that Medela introduced in 1991. This is due to the fact that breast pumps have been evolving through time. But despite the fact that there is an almost infinite number of choices accessible to consumers today, none of them can be said to be ideal.

The search for the perfect pump that accommodates not just your body but also your circumstances might be a tough one. As a mother of four, I’m no stranger to this unusual endeavor, and I’ve put just about every breast pump on the market to the test in my quest to discover a pump that is unobtrusive, kind, and capable of producing the most milk possible.

I’m sorry to have to break the news, but it just does not exist. However, out of the thirteen different models that I examined for this tutorial, there are a couple that are very similar.

I spoke with three lactation specialists and an OB-GYN in order to get their professional opinions. And because there are as many different bodies in the world as there are people, it’s crucial to keep in mind that the way pumping works for one person might not be the greatest way for you to do it. Before making a purchase, each of our specialists recommended carefully examining your unique requirements. At the end of this guide, you will also discover answers to a few frequently asked questions as well as some insight into the testing process that I use for breast pumps.

The best breast pumps, from electric to manual models

Elvie

The most effective portable breast pump
Pros: The advantages of this product include the fact that it may be worn hands-free because it is attached to your bra and that it does not leak.

Cons: Lights can be seen through shirt, which isn’t discrete; assembly and use need more of an intellectual investment than regular pumps do; visibility is reduced.

The Elvie is a hands-free, leak-proof, and extremely futuristic-feeling progressive pump that doesn’t require any user interaction at all.

Elvie produces the greatest wearable pump available on the market, and it is an absolute necessity for individuals who do not have the opportunity to pump their breast milk at regular intervals. If you follow the included instructions to the letter, the Elvie pump is virtually indestructible in this regard in contrast to its rivals.

The Willow, its primary adversary, was responsible for my shedding many tears over a great deal of spilt milk. Regarding this topic, I had a conversation with my very own lactation consultant, Gillian Foreman, who is an IBCLC at Modern Breastfeeding and Education. She added that this is the outcome of Willow’s “flip to finish,” which is a step that works in the opposite direction of what one would expect. Instead, Elvie’s pouring method enables you to transfer the milk that is held within the pump itself directly into a bottle of your choosing.

In addition, the Elvie features a one-of-a-kind storage system that allows you to separate the milk compartments without having to pour anything at all, so you can put them away in a hurry and with little effort. During the process of washing and drying these, however, I discovered that water had a tendency to become trapped in them.

When compared to a twin electric pump, this single-stage pump does have a few disadvantages. The most important factor for me was output. When compared to a conventional pump, the Elvie resulted in much less milk production, but the Willow resulted in significantly more milk production. This is due to the fact that its suction was not only soft but also very efficient, and it reminded me more of a baby’s mouth than of nips. According to Foreman, the majority of customers who use wearable pumps see only half of the regular flow.

She also brings up another worry that a lot of people have regarding the Elvie pump. “You need to be aware of the size of the flange you are. You are able to [use inserts] to make the nipples smaller, but you cannot make them larger “— I quote her. “The most common complaint I’ve heard is about where the nipple is located, and if it’s not in the centre, it might cause discomfort because it could be rubbing.”

I was able to overcome my rubbing issue with practice, and in the end, I was able to reach a comfortable pumping experience; however, this was not essential for a complete bottle on a daily basis.

The pump is also not entirely covert in its operation. My son, who is seven years old, refers to the Elvie pumps as “bionic boobs,” and he is correct in his description because the lights can be seen through clothing.

The best breast pumps, from electric to manual models

Haakaa

Best manual breast pump
Pros: Hands-free operation and steady low-level suction, as opposed to tugging, as is required when using a conventional hand pump

Cons: May become slightly unpleasant or irritating, and there is a considerable chance of spilling.

The Haakaa is a hands-free breast pump that attaches to your breast and provides a gentle suction while you attend to other matters, such as nursing your child on the other side.

Traditional manual pumps include a pumping mechanism that may be operated with one hand. To remove milk from the breast, the user squeezes a handle that is attached to the flange and the pump. The issue is that after approximately ten pumps in your hand, you will start to feel exhausted. It appears like Haakaa has found a solution to this issue by developing a hands-free device that delivers low-level suction.

If you are, for example, nursing your infant on one breast while pumping milk from the other breast, the pump will collect the milk that would otherwise be wasted. However, it is not a suitable substitute for a conventional electric pump. Instead, it is an excellent choice for a secondary pump that may be used sometimes to relieve pressure when you are overfull. This is particularly helpful in the middle of the night when the baby is only interested in nursing on one side.

According to LaShanda Dandrich, director of facilitators and board-certified lactation consultant (IBCLC) with Chocolate Milk Cafe National, the idea that individuals need to utilize it all the time is a potentially detrimental fallacy.

She stated that “the Haakaa is typically advised for families that have an oversupply and the baby eats, is satisfied, and latches great,” but the breast still feels full after the feed despite the fact that the baby has fed.

She warns that using it excessively can actually result in an oversupply of milk since by doing so, you are training the breast that it needs to produce more milk. She suggested using the Haakaa until the breasts felt a little bit more pliable. “Just use the Haakaa,” she said.

The cute flower-shaped stopper made of silicone serves the purpose of preventing leaks, and it performs a good job of doing so. The fact that your breastfeeding baby can easily kick it off or that it can detach occasionally if the suction isn’t entirely sealed both contribute to the fact that this product poses a high danger of spilling its contents. But despite the fact that there were a few accidents, I couldn’t live without it.

The best breast pumps, from electric to manual models

Motif Luna Double Electric Pump

Best portable breast pump
Pros: The advantages include its portability, small size, high milk output, powerful motor and suction, quiet operation, and straightforward assembly and cleaning.

Cons: Hard plastic flanges are a disadvantage.

The Motif Luna Double Electric Pump is an on-the-go alternative to a full-size pump that is an option that is not only portable but also easy to use, quiet, and produces a significant amount of milk.

If you only intend to purchase one pump and your infant is receiving all of its nutrition through nursing, every ounce counts. Due to the fact that it had one of the greatest outputs of all of the pumps that we examined, the Motif Luna was selected. This is the most productive and cost-efficient option there is, provided that all other considerations are ignored and the primary goal is to maximize one’s return on investment.

Portable pumps, which are smaller than standard double electric pumps, have acquired a poor name for being weak and disappointing, with motors that don’t survive through the nursing needs of numerous children. This is because portable pumps are smaller than traditional double electric pumps.

But with this one, we’ve seen better results, and it’s now being made available by the majority of insurance companies, Dandrich added. “People enjoy using it, and when I collaborate with those who have it, they have been producing high-quality work.”

According to Dandrich, you may know for certain that you are selecting an excellent pump if the motor is powerful but doesn’t necessarily feel powerful on the breasts. The Luna is an example of a pump that fulfills this description. The pump is described as impressive by Foreman, who also advises that customers select the higher-grade Luna rather than the lower-grade Duo because there is a significant quality gap between the two.

Even though the Luna contains a number of components, such as connectors, valves, and flanges, each of these elements is manageable, easy to clean by hand, and straightforward to put back together again.

The three different levels of LED lighting on the pump for use at night, the very clear buttons that don’t require looking back at the manual, and the timer that shows how many minutes you’ve been pumping for are some of my favorite features of the pump. If you are seeking for a discreet way to pump at work or while you are traveling, this is the pump for you because it is very quiet.

The best breast pumps, from electric to manual models

Spectra S1 Plus Electric Breast Pump

Best double electric breast pump
Pros: Extremely comfortable, inexpensive, high output, strong motor and high setting capabilities, remembers your settings for the next session, has a handle for convenient carrying Pros: Remembers your settings for the next session Pros: High output, strong motor and high setting capabilities Pros:

Cons: It turns off after a predetermined amount of time, which means you have to start afresh if you want to continue using it.

The Spectra S1 Plus Electric Breast Pump is a real workhorse, since it has a high output and a motor that is both powerful and long-lasting.

If I were to ever love a pump, it would be the Spectra S1, because it is my one and only true love. It offers the largest output of all of the portable breast pumps, and it will continue to function normally even if you have one or even two additional children.

A board-certified lactation consultant (IBCLC) of The Lactation Network named Jennifer Horne recommends Spectra because of its closed system for reasons related to hygiene. This technology ensures that milk circulates through a hygienic path that is separate from the pump mechanism. She also enjoys how the settings can be adjusted to alter the amount of suction and how you can choose between letdown and expressiveness modes.

The fact that I just need only one pump allows me to achieve a higher production because I have a second “letdown” or wave of milk approximately halfway through the process. I think this is because it has a powerful motor and a feel that is most similar to how my baby moves while she is nursing.

According to Horne, its levels of suction are of “hospital-grade” quality. It operates silently and is equipped with a practical night light, making it ideal for pumping at night.

I prefer a pump in which I am not forced to use the maximum or minimum setting, as this gives me more leeway to adjust the dosage accordingly, depending on whether I require it to be somewhat more potent or less potent on a given day. This is a criterion that can be met by the Spectra S1, since its levels can go as high as 12, whereas I spent most of my time in the region of 4 to 5 levels. The buttons, the timer, and the settings are all quite easy to use other than the fact that I would have preferred wave symbols to be used in place of the words “stimulation” and “expression” on the buttons.

In the same vein as the Personal Fit Flex technology developed by Medela, which replaces the hard plastic ring with a rubber ring, I would like to see Spectra develop a softer rimmed flange. If this is the case, then the Spectra is the best pump there is.

Both the Motif and the Spectra are equipped with traditional pump parts that are simple to clean, assemble, and troubleshoot in the event of an issue. Although this pump is comparable to its rival, the Medela Pump in Style, and both are almost universally covered by health insurance, the Medela model lacked a timer and a time log, and it was only possible to increase the pump’s suction rather than its speed. This model, on the other hand, offers all of these features.

The best breast pumps, from electric to manual models

Medela Symphony

Best hospital-grade breast pump
Pros: Suction that is powerful yet not overbearing, and a high output.

Cons: It’s expensive to buy, renting it can be a problem, it’s not portable, and there aren’t a lot of bells and whistles in terms of the settings.

According to our specialists, if you need considerable output, it may be worthwhile to rent a hospital-grade Medela Symphony.

The one upside to having a sick newborn and having to spend time in the hospital was getting to meet the Medela Symphony. This equipment is the holy grail of pumps and is often accessible to the average customer through a rental program at your local hospital. Our experts recommend this product as the greatest hospital-grade pump, and they call it the holy grail of pumps.

Horne says that hospital-grade pumps are designed to be used by multiple people at once and have the specific purpose of bringing in and maintaining a milk supply.

She explained that “these pumps are commonly recommended in the hospital if your baby is premature or if you are having other difficulty breastfeeding early on.” “They are also indicated if you are solely pumping, have conditions that may impair milk supply, have undergone past breast surgery, or are inducing lactation,”

The most exciting thing for me as an experienced pumper was to see fifty percent more milk than normal come out of one of the fastest pumping sessions I’ve ever done. I was able to make that more milk in approximately ten minutes, rather than the typical twenty to twenty-five, and without any additional exertion or discomfort. Foreman gives credit to the Symphony’s piston motor system for powering this pump, which she explains is a unique design compared to that of other pumps.

These systems do not come without drawbacks, the most significant of which is that they must be plugged in. Additionally, in order to rent one, you must go through the bureaucratic process of working with insurance, unless you are willing to spend thousands of dollars to purchase your own.

Another drawback of the Symphony is that it does not have a large number of settings that can be customized; nevertheless, this is something that some people might view as a benefit because having too many buttons can sometimes be difficult after only having a few hours of sleep. The fact that it only had “on,” “up,” and “letdown” buttons was convenient for me, but other people might prefer having more options.

Parents who are in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) or who have a limited supply during the first few weeks of their baby’s life, Dandrich recommended the Symphony. Even while you probably won’t ever require one, it’s comforting to know that a highly effective pump is readily available at many hospitals in the event that you find yourself trapped there during an emergency by yourself or with your child.

What else we have tried

What else do we suggest?

  • Medela Harmony Breastpump ($41.99): If the Haakaa is not your factor, and you might be searching for a standard hand pump, that is the very best one. Made with a highly comfy outer rubber ring, it makes you extra comfortable and lives as much as they declare that it provides you extra milk quicker. Whereas my hand did get drained, the pump produced a couple of ounces in simply a few minutes. 
  • Freemie cups (not the pump) (from $69.99): The Freemie assortment system gives cups that go in your bra, eliminating the necessity for bottles hanging down in the entrance of you and making for a discreet pumping system. Whereas we did not love the energy and output of the Freemie pump itself, we suggest wanting into these cups as a storage system, which may generally be hooked up to different forms of pumps with adapters from other manufacturers, relying on your setup. Consider it because of the budget-friendly approach to entry among the perks of the Elvie without spending lots of {dollars}.

What we do not suggest

  • Elvie Stride ($210): A less expensive various to the unique Elvie, this swing pump made extra milk than the Elvie; however, it lacked the comfort of its pricier wearable counterpart. It was somewhat clunkier to assemble, and the components are likely to be extra cumbersome to scrub with extra grooves and distinctive features. 
  • Lansinoh Smart Pump 2.0 Double Electric Breast Pump ($128.99), Freemie Liberty II Deluxe Breast Pump System ($149.99), and Evenflo Advanced Double Electric Breast Pump ($101.99): These moveable pumps did simply what Foreman mentioned they might do: underperformed. Decrease output was the primary concern because they did not have a sufficiently robust motor to go the space. 
  • Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump ($24.94): This single-side handbook pump led to at least one drained hand and little milk because the vary of the deal with did not present sufficient suction varies to extract milk correctly. I ended up utilizing two palms for what ought to solely take one to stabilize the pump and supply enough strain.
  • Medela Pump in Style with MaxFlow Breast Pump ($189.99): Corresponding to the Spectra S1, the Medela is a tried-and-true favorite that many individuals take pleasure in. However, for $50 extra and some much fewer choices, it did not maintain as much as the Spectra S1. In case you have a possibility between the Medela and different moveable pumps solely, it’ll nonetheless get the job completed.
  • Willow Wearable Breast Pump ($499.99): There is likely no hotter debate between pumping dad and mom between Willow and Elvie. The Willow can be utilized with storage luggage or containers, whereas the Elvie solely permits containers. The principal variations had been that the Elvie by no means leaked for me and was a lot gentler. Unlike the Willow, you should purchase a single Elvie pump relatively than a set of two. Each produced comparable output.

My experience with testing breast pumps

  • I tested each pump at the same time every day and for the same period of time, which ranged between 20 and 25 minutes, in order to eliminate any variability in the output. The following is a list of the criteria that I used to assess each pump:
  • Ease of assembly and the steepness of the learning curve: No one wants to risk having their breast milk spill out as they struggle to get a breast pump set up and functioning properly. We sought for pumps that had directions that were easy to understand, assembly instructions that were straightforward, and manageable component parts. To ensure that you are properly prepared for a productive pumping session, we picked for breast pumps that provide step-by-step instructions, such as the video tutorials that can be seen on Elvie’s app.
  • Produced milk is sometimes referred to as “liquid gold,” and for good reason. When you are trying to save up enough money for a night out on the town without the baby or when you are just trying to send enough money to daycare to get through the following day, every single penny counts. We placed a premium on having a bigger output, but not at the expense of our subsequent requirements.
  • Comfort: A comfortable pump will not feel like it is causing injury, chafing, nibbling at, or harming your breasts in any other way. According to the explanations provided by our industry professionals, it also shouldn’t be sucking too firmly and creating discomfort because this has the opposite impact of what you are attempting to accomplish with it. Instead, you should look for a vacuum that has a powerful motor yet a soft suction. Additional comfort features, such as a rubber lining around the flange, were another thing that we sought for.
  • Portability in addition to other access features: Fuel pumps are becoming more handy with each passing year, with the majority of manufacturers concentrating on making the pumps portable. However, other access points, such as the ability to time your pumping session, the ability to see this information in the dark, and the ability to read and understand the buttons, are also vital.
  • Cleaning and storing: We made sure to choose pumps that are simple to clean and put away, with the exception of those annoying valves that come standard on most pumps and can be a little trickier to clean than other parts of the pump. Pumps that can be easily laid out to dry are handy since they allow you to simply hand wash them and then walk away, whereas other pumps appear to hold water in bothersome locations and require a complete hand dry.

FAQs

Are breast pumps covered by health insurance in the United States?

According to Dr. Betsy Greenleaf, DO, an obstetrician, women’s health expert, and advisor at Ph-D Feminine Health, many breast pumps are covered by insurance, and legislation requires insurance companies to cover all breastfeeding-related services for the duration of breastfeeding. Dr. Greenleaf told Insider that insurance companies are required to cover all breastfeeding-related services for the duration of breastfeeding.

Foreman added that you may not yet see insurers covering new hands-free pumps like the Elvie, however some would give you the opportunity to pay for just part of one with an upgrade charge. For example, the Elvie is a new hands-free pump that was released in 2017. One of our top options, the Medela Pump in Style, and the Spectra S1 breast pump are both generally covered by a wide variety of insurers.

Is there any danger to your breasts while you pump?

No, it will not harm your breasts in any way. Breast pumping and nursing may reduce the incidence of breast cancer, as stated by Dr. Betsy Greenleaf. This is especially true for women who have nursed for at least one year. Inappropriate use of a breast pump can sometimes result in a breast injury, which is something that around 15 percent of breastfeeding mothers have gone through.

The foreman has witnessed overpumping lead to employees sustaining injury. She claims that people dial up the pumps in the mistaken belief that they will obtain greater output, causing them to cause damage by pumping at too high of a level even when it is unpleasant. To avoid injuring yourself, check that the flange you are using is the appropriate size and form. According to Foreman, the nipple should not rub against the cylinder nor should it pull in an excessive amount of the areola.

According to Foreman, sagging or drooping in the breasts is a natural aspect of the hormonal changes that occur with aging and will not be accelerated by pumping over the long term.

Is it all right to only pump milk and not actually feed the baby?

Indeed, this technique is known as “exclusive pumping.” People could make the decision to pump solely for a variety of reasons, including a traumatic latching experience, job or school problems, feeling touched out, or having a dysphoric milk ejection reflex (D-MER).

Because going exclusive can be such a difficult path, Foreman suggested that exclusive pumpers look for online support groups to join. It takes more time to exclusively pump because of all of the steps involved, including pumping, cleaning the equipment, storing the milk, warming the bottles, and feeding the baby.

Greenleaf stated that you can still properly bond with your baby even if you choose this path, and that it will not harm your capacity to do so. This is especially true considering the fact that you might be a little more well-rested when others can help with feeding sessions.

When breast milk is pumped, does it retain its nutritional value?

Yes, this is a distinct possibility. Babies are more effective than pumps at removing the fatty substance known as “hindmilk,” which can occasionally be produced in an inefficient manner. According to Greenleaf, hindmilk is “an essential component for growth, hormone production, and the development of the brain.”

In addition, our skin contains germs that has the potential to be passed to the milk more easily through pumping than during nursing; therefore, she recommends following recommendations regarding the handling of breastmilk. Last but not least, according to Greenleaf, the antioxidative immune factors and fat content of pumped milk can diminish with the passage of time, chilling, and freezing.


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